Envy is the wish to get what one does not have – and others do. In our consumer societies, this wish can literally throw us on a roller coaster that brings us little happiness, because every possession is one less than what can possibly be acquired.
However, its not always material goods that are the object of our envy. Often it is the financial status, personal qualities or success of others that make us feel angry or drive us to push ourselves beyond what’s possible.
When we’re not aware, we resort to unhelpful ways of managing our envy. E run after what we do not really want, or forget our own value and uniqueness and get caught in an unhappy and perpetual pursuit.
There is a way out – and one that takes us back to our authenticity and our purpose. People who’ve found this “ground zero” are not swayed by other people’s successes, nor by societal demands. In essence, they’ve found what makes lives truly worth living.
So how do we begin?
What Am I Saying?
Our thoughts are an indicator of our inner worlds. Often we’re caught up in a frenzy of internal chatter and swept away by the powerful feelings that ensue. But thoughts are thoughts – and the product of a wild imagination that can as easily picture us atop a pink elephant trudging up the Everest! These thoughts are heavily influenced by the negativity bias – an inherent survival mechanism that is quite obsolete in the 21st century, and yet we haven’t learnt to automatically challenge its dire view of the world. Taking a step back and doing so consciously, allows us to distance ourselves from the flood of mental noise and relieve ourselves of the feelings that result from it.
What’s Special About Me?
From a place of inner calm, we can remind ourselves of who we are, our strengths, skills, values, passions and most of all, our way of being that is unlike any other. Instead of viewing it all through the tainted lens of the negative, we can decide to focus on what makes us special – on what a dear friend would appreciate in us, on the times we’ve made a difference in someone’s life, on the moments when we’ve taken what is bright and beautiful within us to shed light around us. Knowing what makes us unique reminds us that we have our own gifts – and that our purpose in life is to discover them, and then give them back to the world.
What’s the Source of my Envy?
Now you’re in a place to sit down and have an adult conversation with your envy! Instead of suppressing it like a nagging child wanting candy at the checkout counter, ask it what it wants. What is it that has roused such emotions in you? Why this burning desire to have what you see in others? It may be reminding you of a goal you’re passionate about but have forgotten on the backburner. Or a life you’ve always wanted but have not taken out the time to build. If this is so, harness the energy from the envy, and use it to plan your way forward and to make the changes you really want in your life.
Authenticity lies in knowing who you are and living your life in accordance to it. It is this authenticity that is the source of lasting self-confidence. Any other source simply feeds the ego, and leads to a downward spiral of constant comparison and its negative consequences.
It reminds me of Henry Thoreau’s words: “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone”. Let alone what is not about you, nor for you, and you’ll be able to embrace yourself, others and life!
Now I’d love to hear back from you! What are your sources of envy? How do you deal with them?